Past or Past Continuous

by Samah

In an exam the following sentence needed to be corrected:

Mary (arrive) arrived to the station ,she (get)got off the train, her friends (wait) waited for her

The above is what I wrote but "waited" was corrected and replaced by "were waiting".

Am I wrong or can both be right? If I am wrong, is there a rule that I can use because I am confused.

Thanks in advance.

Samah Ellakany

Comments for Past or Past Continuous

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Dec 22, 2010
Past or Past Continuous
by: Anonymous

Thanks a lot Ola , this sure helps and I really appreciate your help.



Dec 19, 2010
The differences
by: Ola Zur

Hi Samah,

You are not wrong.

Both sentences are correct, but they have slightly different meanings:

1. Mary arrived to the station. She got off the train, her friends waited for her.

This sentence simply means that Mary arrived and came off the train. Her friends waited for her and did not leave without her.

2. Mary arrived to the station. She got off the train and saw her friends waiting.

This sentence means that Mary arrived to the station. When she came off the train she noticed her friends waiting for her.

So you see, both sentences have similar meanings, but a slight variation.

There isn't a "right" and a "wrong" one. It depends on what you intend to say.

I guess your teacher meant the second option. You can find more data about it on the Past Progressive section.

I hope this helps.

Let me know if you are still confused...

Ola Zur is the editor of, an illustrated guide to English.

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